Demonstration rocks Singur as ''Tata Nano'' rolls out

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Singur/Kolkata, Jan 10(UNI) In a significant development that coincided unveiling of the Tatas' small car in Delhi, work remained disrupted following a workers' demonstration at Singur today while local farmers made a bonfire of a replica of the Rs 1 lakh vehicle pledging opposition to the project.

Sitting for a dharna in front of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation(WBIDC), close to the project site, about 350 workers held the demonstration under the banner of CITU, the labour wing of the CPI(M) in protest against termination of their jobs.

The agitated workers, belonging to Singur, also prevented others from joining duty and chased away a group of labourers when they were about to enter the project site.

The demonstration was, however, withdrawn late in the afternoon following persuasion by a WBIDC official.

The local CPI(M) leaders claimed that the project could function a little till 1400 hrs. since morning while sources in WBIDC and Tata Motors denied having knowledge of work being affected.

''The demonstration was spontaneous. It was the outburst of the sentiment of the workers for whom we pleaded with WBIDC for permanent jobs,'' CPI(M) Hooghly district committee member Dibakar Das said.

WBIDC Managing Director M V Rao said the terminated workers were among 750-odd people appointed on the basis of daily wages and there was no scope for retaining them after construction of the boundary wall was complete.

''I do not think the work was halted,'' Mr.Rao said over phone.

He observed that the terminated workers could be utilised in future in some other jobs.

The WBIDC MD said the project work was scheduled to be complete by the middle of this year and the first car would roll out in the second half.

Meanwhile, a section of local farmers, under the banner of the Trinamool Congress-led 'Krishi Jami Raksha Committee' staged another demonstration in front of the Singur police station, lighting up a replica of the proposed small car.

The Committee has been spearheading a movement against setting up of the factory on fertile soil while making a demand for giving back the acquired agricultural land to the farmers.

Trinamool Congress youth wing president Madan Mitra and Krishi Jami Raksha Committee convener Becharam Manna led the demonstration.

''The local farmers shall never accept the project and they shall not allow it to survive,'' Mr.Manna said.

Expressing satisfaction at the unveiling of the small car, state Industry Minister Nirupam Sen said today's announcement by Mr.Ratan Tata in Delhi dispelled any doubts over the possibility of the economy car coming to the market.

''It is happy news...this project would place the country high on a proud pedastal in the international arena,'' he told reporters.

Mr.Sen, a strong votary of industrialisation, also observed that the Singur project would come to a great benefit to the people of the state.

UNI.KDG ADG ARL ND2045

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